Are you wondering what are the best museums in Florence, Italy? I have visited Florence with my husband and our friends. I was really inspired and amazed with countless work of arts dotted around Florence made by famous artists of our time. I would like to share with you the various museums in Florence, Italy that you should not miss when visiting this beautiful Italian city.
Is it possible to visit Florence without stepping inside one of the city’s breathtaking museums? There are many museums to explore in the region that gave rise to the Renaissance.
You can get up close and personal with original works by Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, and many other great Italian artists during your travels. These Florence museums are a window into the past, allowing you to discover this city’s fascinating aspects.
I wrote another article about the Best Things to Do in Florence, Italy. I encourage you to read it to know more about this beautiful Italian city.
List of the best museums in Florence, Italy:
1. Uffizi Gallery
You can only visit Italy by visiting the Uffizi, one of the most well-known art museums in the world.
Actually, “Uffizi” stands for “Ufficio,” or offices. The Medici family constructed the building in 1560 to house the city’s administrative offices, hence the museum’s name. Midway through the 18th century, it was given to the state as a museum.
One of Florence’s most illustrious families, the Medici, started gathering artwork and artifacts. It gradually grew into the sizable collection that is the Uffizi of today. Famous pieces by legendary artists like Raphael and Botticelli can be found here. A
You can find artworks like “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” by Botticelli, “Doni Tondo” by Michelangelo, “Venus of Urbino” by Titian, “The Medusa” by Caravaggio, and many more tucked away in the side rooms and along the Uffizi’s long, golden corridors.
If you only have time to visit one museum in Florence, make sure it’s this one. Also, make reservations in advance!
2. Accademia Gallery
The Accademia Gallery is another must-see in Florence alongside the Uffizi. The statue of David, whose gaze has captivated millions of people worldwide, resides here.
The gallery building itself dates back to 1787. The museum’s collection has expanded beyond the works of the master sculptor Michelangelo, despite initial perceptions to the contrary. You can even check out a one-of-a-kind collection of vintage instruments in the museum’s current incarnation.
Take advantage of the masterpieces on either side of the hall while admiring the illuminated David in the center. Michelangelo’s famous unfinished “Slaves” are hidden among the rough marble blocks. The full scope of Michelangelo’s genius is displayed in these works that were not commissioned. The Accademia has much stunning artwork that will leave you in awe, but it’s still on the smaller side compared to other museums. A morning visit is possible before spending the afternoon in the city’s heart.
3. Opera del Duomo Museum
Have you ever been curious about Duomo’s construction in Florence? The church is a prominent feature of the Florence skyline, its stunning Brunelleschi dome serving as a focal point. The Opera Duomo Museum gives visitors a glimpse into the process that led to the building’s current splendor over several centuries.
Visit this museum to learn more about the great dome designed by Brunelleschi. You won’t just get a bird’s-eye view of the dome; you’ll also be able to examine the church’s priceless sculptures up close.
Not to be confused with his sculpture of the same name in the Vatican, Michelangelo’s “Pietà” is one of the most impressive works. It depicts Nicodemus carrying Christ’s body after his death, with the assistance of two of the Marys.
Michelangelo abandoned this project because he was dissatisfied with the marble and believed it to be flawed. This explains why Christ seems to be limping a bit.
There’s also the intriguing theory that Michelangelo was portraying himself in Nicodemus. You can get as close to the masterpiece at the Duomo Museum as standing in front of the artist himself.
A museum devoted to a church might not seem attractive at first, but you should check it out. There are many excellent, unexpected things to see in this museum.
4. San Marco Museum
A trip to the San Marco Museum is essential if you’re interested in learning about the life and work of one of Florence’s most well-known residents, the painter, architect, sculptor, and all-around Renaissance man Fra Angelico.
This lovely monastery-turned-museum is housed in the former convent of San Marco, where Angelico once resided and worked while living and working under the patronage of none other than Cosimo de’ Medici. The convent now houses a collection of famous works by Angelico and other artists who, over the centuries, have lived and labored there (albeit non-exclusively).
Even though you could spend hours wandering the halls and the courtyard, Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation,” regarded as one of his best works and one of the final San Marco frescoes to be finished, is unquestionably one of the highlights of the museum. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Italian art from the 15th century and shows Mary seeing the angel Gabriel.
Other popular attractions are the First Floor Dormitories and the mesmerizing Chapter House, which was once used by the monks for congregational meetings but is now completely covered in images of the Crucifixion and Saints.
But this off-the-beaten-path museum is more than just the artwork on display; the building itself is a work of art. The monastery was built in the 15th century, though it was occupied as early as the 12th century, as evidenced by the stunning medieval architecture. The intricately detailed frescoes in the cloister, painted by the Italian Mannerist painter Poccetti in the 16th century, depict scenes from San Marco’s daily life and provide a window into that period’s radically different way of life.
The San Marco Museum is tucked away in the north of Florence and is open from Monday through Friday from 8.15 am to 1.15 pm and on weekends from 8.15 am to 4.15 pm. It is about a 10- to 15-minute walk from Florence’s main historical attractions. Bookings for guided tours are required in advance and are highly recommended.
5. Palatine Gallery
The Palatine Gallery is one of Florence’s most beautiful art museums, if not all of Italy. It is stunning and colorful in every direction you look, with gold trimmings adorning the ceiling and eye-catching artwork lining the walls.
The Palatine Gallery is a part of Florence’s largest museum complex, the Pitti Palace, a grand-ducal residence that once housed the Medici and Lorraine families and now houses the Palatine Gallery. The Pitti Palace looks out onto the Boboli Gardens. This long, slender gallery, which occupies the entire first floor of the palace, was built in 1458 by Medici’s friend and Florentine banker Luca Pitti.
The gallery was built to house the Medici family’s impressive art collection and host significant events. It is made up of 28 rooms, many of which are named after planets or gods, and has high barrel-vaulted ceilings with intricate frescoes.
The Palatine Gallery is a visual feast featuring works by some of the most renowned painters of the 16th and 17th centuries and beyond, such as Titian (note the Portrait of Vincenzo Mosti), Rubens, Van Dyck, Raphael (note the Portrait of Agnolo Doni as well as Ezekiel’s Vision), Correggio, and Andrea del Sarto.
Unfortunately, with so many masterpieces packed into a small area, it can be challenging to see everything at once (especially since they are arranged similarly to how they were during the Medici years and don’t follow any strict chronological order); it is advised to use one of the audio guides to help you make sense of it all.
The Palatine Gallery is open daily from 1.30 pm to 6.30 pm, excluding Mondays. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, it’s essential to know that the Palatine Gallery is typically much less crowded in the evening than in the afternoon. If you want a more upscale experience, you can purchase a skip-the-line pass or schedule a private tour.
Adult admission is 23.75 euros (plus 4.75 euros for pre-sales; round up to 19 euros), with discounts available for students and seniors. You can get your money’s worth because tickets are also valid for the Modern Art Gallery, The Costume Gallery, and The Medici Treasures.
6. National Archeological Museum of Florence
The National Archaeological Museum is one of the biggest and most significant museums in this stunning city on the Arno, offering a welcome diversion from the Renaissance art that is dispersed throughout numerous Florence museums (not to be confused with the eponymous museum in Naples). In addition to many intricate and exciting Roman sculptures, it also contains a fantastic collection of Etruscan, Egyptian, and Greek artwork.
The Archaeological Museum is close to the Accademia Museum and is housed in a stunning building (to be expected of Florence by this point, right?) with an expansive garden housing Etruscan tombs out the back. It is situated in the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata.
Keep an eye out for some of the museum’s most famous exhibits as you stroll through its halls, such as the François vase from 570 B.C., an Egyptian war chariot, and the 2nd century BC sarcophagus of Laerthia Seianti, to name a few. Extensive is the Egyptian section, also known as the Egyptian Museum and, surprisingly, the second-largest of its kind in Italy.
See smaller items on display throughout the museum if you enjoy finding undiscovered treasures and lesser-known pieces. Visit the corridor upstairs to see a variety of ancient treasures from the Medici collections, which include Roman mosaics, Greek vases, and a group of amulets from the ancient world.
Tuesday through Friday, 9 am to 8 pm, and on the weekends, 9 am to 4 pm, are the hours of operation for the National Archaeological Museum (closed on Mondays). There is a 5 euro entrance fee, and for those who would instead learn than browse, there are also guided tours available.
7. Salvatore Ferragamo Museum
One of Florence’s more distinctive museums, the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, serves as a beacon for fashionistas from near and far. For one thing, you won’t find Renaissance paintings or marble sculptures here.
This museum, which is devoted to the life and work of famed Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, who became well-known in Hollywood during the 1920s by designing iconic shoes for stars like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Greta Garbo, gives visitors a glimpse into the fascinating world of high fashion and Italian design and highlights the significant influence Ferragamo had on the development of both footwear and global style.
The Salvatore Ferragamo museum is housed in an opulent structure on the Via de’ Tornabuoni, in the basement of Palazzo Spini Feroni, a historic structure built in 1289 that, some 700 years later, became the company’s headquarters and the first Salvatore Ferragamo store. The museum now has over 14,000 items spread across three floors, including sketches, original prototypes, press cuttings, advertising materials, photographs, vintage shoes (more than
A few pairs of shoes Ferragamo made for Hollywood stars like Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Sophia Loren are among the highlights of the exhibition; it’s easy to see why he earned the nickname “Shoemaker to the Stars” after opening the “Hollywood Boot Shop” in 1923.
The eccentric shoe collection is impressive, and he uses various materials to make each pair unique, including silk, cotton, wood, satin embroidery, and more. Still, it’s not just about the shoes. The museum also hosts themed, recurring exhibits that explore a variety of subjects beyond just a few pairs of sneakers, such as silk or sustainability.
Every day from 11 am to 7.30 pm, the Ferragamo Museum is open. Adult admission is 8 euros; children and those in school receive a 50% discount.
The Museo Salvatore Ferragamo is worth a visit if you’re interested in fashion or want to learn more about one of Florence’s most famous sons. If you want to learn more, consider using a free audio guide (available in Italian, English, French, Spanish, and Japanese).
8. Museo di Palazzo Vecchio
Discover centuries of art history by entering one of Florence’s most iconic palaces, which accurately represent the city’s architectural style. This palazzo is one of the city’s most intriguing sights, both inside and out.
You may have noticed that Florence’s palaces resemble fortresses more than castles from fairy tales. The palace halls were designed to serve as municipal buildings and fortifications. The Republic of Florence’s governing body oversaw all municipal affairs in the Palazzo Vecchio during the Middle Ages. There aren’t any unique masterpieces inside. The real draw is the palace itself, with its intricate architecture and frescoes.
If large crowds put you off, this is one of the best museums in Florence, Italy. Even though the piazza in front may be pretty crowded, fewer people enter the palace’s interior.
9. Leonardo Da Vinci Museum
You’ve already experienced Florence’s historical masterpieces and the opulence of its artisan fashion houses. It’s time to take a closer look at the city’s creative side.
The Leonardo Da Vinci Museum offers each visitor a singular experience where the senses and knowledge of “Leonardo” marry, giving visitors the feeling of being immersed in a history of extraordinary relevance. The museum is located in Florence and has various traveling exhibits from all over the world.
The Leonardo da Vinci museum in Florence houses the machine codes derived from Leonardo, serving as a point of reference for visitors as an educational and cognitively complete tool.
A striking and unusual piece of work, meticulously carried out by the WMA World Wide Museum staff: real machines, all running, large, and made of particular cases. Machines, which can never be defined as anything more than “models,” are entirely made of wood, necessitating the dedication of both sophisticated technology and specialized human skills.
The museum is a carefully researched exhibition where the machines’ interactivity is crucial.
Children can operate the rotating crane model and other models of Da Vinci’s inventions in this exhibit (about half are roped off as display only).
The museum has five sections.
Based on Leonardo’s codexes, the machine demonstrates the following concepts: motion transformation, looking system, flywheel, worm screw, ball bearer, eccentric cam, etc.
There are numerous interactive machines, including printing machines, rotating cranes, oil presses, automata, rolling mills, odometers, theatrical machines, fantastic animals, etc.
The machines inspired by water are still considered very modern and are used today. Some examples of these machines include the hydraulic saw, the Archimedean skew, water floats, and the webbed glove.
In this section, we will discuss such topics as Leonardo’s parachute, the hornithopters, the wing trial, the anemometer, the anemoscope, the hygrometer, the comedy bird, and other related issues.
The Atlantic Codex served as an inspiration for artillery machines. Machine guns and mortar fire are two of these. This section contains the fully interactive armored tank, which is unique worldwide due to its size.
10. Museo Galileo
Continue your break from the arts and learn about Galileo Galilei, one of the most renowned scientists in history.
We owe much of today’s mathematical knowledge to Galileo because of his far-reaching expertise and curiosity. Of course, heliocentricity—the notion that we revolve around the sun rather than the other way—was one of his most significant theories.
You can still learn much about the researcher’s life and discoveries in this museum, even though it isn’t as interactive as the Da Vinci museum. Numerous telescopes, maps, and other items that he would have used in his research are included in the collection.
The museum is conveniently located in the heart of Florence, close to the Uffizi, making it accessible from anywhere you may be traveling.
11. Museum of Costume and Fashion
The Meridiana of the Pitti Palace, which was started under Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1776 and finished in 1840, and which was chosen as a residence by the families that ruled Tuscany and by the Savoy house until 1946, is where the Costume Gallery (Museum of Costume and Fashion) is located. The historical clothing and accessory collections once kept in the palace’s warehouses are now on display in the Lorraine/Savoy rooms.
The collections span the years from the eighteenth century to the present. The restoration of the Grand Duke Cosimo de’ Medici’s, Eleonora of Toledo’s, and her son Don Garzia’s funeral robes recently added some exceptional examples of 16th-century attire to the museum.
Every two months, various clothing selections are displayed in the air-conditioned rooms to illustrate the evolution of fashion for educational purposes. Instead, temporary exhibitions are held in a few rooms, such as the dancing hall. The decision to switch out the clothes on display every two years was made to ensure their preservation. Still, it also provides a chance to display another patrimony stored in the depository, primarily from private donors.
Along with a sizable collection of historical clothing donated to the museum by Umberto Tirelli, Sartoria Tirelli’s collection of about 90 theater costumes is also included in the Costume Gallery’s holdings. A laboratory for fabric restoration is located in the nearby Meridiana building.
12. La Specola
Although less well-known than museums like the Uffizi, Accademia, and Archaeological Museum, Florence’s Museo di Storia Naturale della Specola is unquestionably worth a visit if you’re interested in science and nature in general. It’s also thought to be the oldest scientific museum in Europe.
The wax anatomical models on display are one of this museum’s most intriguing features; Gaetano Giulio Zumbo produced this odd collection of figures in the 18th century (who had an obsession with anatomy and corruption).
Make no mistake; when you see the nude wax women in erotic poses, with their organs showing and ribcages open, you’ll realize that La Specola is a nightmare away from your typical Madame Tussauds. These lifelike models are both fascinating and slightly eerie, giving visitors an insight into what medical science was like back in the day.
The Museo di Storia Naturale della Specola, located on Via Romana on the southern bank of the Arno close to the Pitti Palace, also houses an extensive collection of minerals, including some of the giant crystals in the world, meteorites, fossils, and taxidermied animals, as well as an impressive Skeletons Hall on the ground floor.
There is even a section on archaic zoology where you can learn how different species have changed over time. The collection contains over 3.5 million animals, with about 5,000 on display at any time.
Aside from the abundance of fascinating exhibits that line its floors, the museum itself is a piece of history. Before the early 19th century, this unique but underappreciated organization was the only scientific museum designed for the general public. Therefore, anyone desiring to gain firsthand knowledge of natural history for more than two centuries had to travel to Florence. It is changing times indeed!
13. Bargelo National Museum
The Bargello served as the “podesta’s” palace during the Renaissance; today, we would refer to him as a judge. It served as a court as well as a prison simultaneously. Following the verdict, prisoners who had been given the death penalty were taken to the area outside the city walls, where most executions occurred.
The Bargello is now a museum with a lovely collection that includes some works of art from the Renaissance. Two masterpieces each depict a famous scene: David slaying the enormous Goliath.
In Bargello, there are two Davids—one by Donatello and one by Verrocchio. While depicting the same subject, their stylistic differences are vast. The first freestanding sculpture made of bronze after antiquity was Donatello’s David. It was commissioned by the Medici family and stood in the courtyard of their city palace for a considerable amount of time.
However, by the end of the 15th century, the Medici had been expelled from the city for a short while, and the statue had been moved to the Palazzo della Signoria, also known as the “Palazzo Vecchio.”
Two bronze panels created for a competition to design a set of bronze doors for the Battistero in front of the Duomo are another outstanding component of Bargello’s collection. Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, two Renaissance masters, faced off against one another.
Even though both panels had an exquisite casting and fine detail, Ghiberti won the contest. Among the causes? He made his cast out of less bronze by leaving the back hollow. It significantly reduced the cost of the doors. Even the wealthy Renaissance men were sensitive to it!
14. Synagogue and Jewish Museum of Florence
David Levi, the president of the Hebrew University, left his possessions as a bequest in 1868 to construct a new synagogue in Florence that would be “worthy of the city.” He made provisions for purchasing a parcel of land between the newly built Mattonaia and Piazza d’Azeglio.
As a result, between 1874 and 1882, the architects Marco Treves, Mariano Falcini, and Vincenzo Micheli constructed the “Tempio Maggiore Israelitico.” The Moorish-style temple is made of pink pomato stone, travertine is centrally planned, and has a dome flanked by towers. It is of the “of the Emancipation” variety because it was designed as a standalone structure rather than being concealed, as in ghettoes.
The Sienese architect Pasquale Franci’s cast-iron railings surrounding the synagogue, which is situated in a garden with exotic plants, give visitors a sense of the splendor of the East.
The central dome, raised on a tall circular drum, is covered in copper that has undergone oxidation to give it the distinctive greenish hue that makes it stand out on the Florentine skyline. Giovanni Panti decorated the interior, bathed in golden light, with painted red and blue arabesques that had initially been outlined in gold. A museum on the first floor, split into two sections—one depicting the history of the Jews in Florence and the other displaying religious and ceremonial objects—illustrates the history of the Florentine community.
15. Gallery of Modern Art
Since 1924, the Gallery has been arranged on the second floor of the Pitti Palace and extends as far as the rooms and the facade used by the Medici for the palace library and the side wings used for children and retainers.
It was founded in 1914 and initially comprised works of art from the Academy of Fine Arts. The current museum collection shall consist of thirty rooms that trace a wide chronological arc: from the time of Pietro Leopoldo to the First World War.
The tour, organized in chronological order and by historical-topical category, attempts to furnish the visitor with a clear view of the histories of the various core collections and enable a correct reading of the diverse atmospheres, marked as they are by the personal tastes of the royal families alternating in their reigns.
Today, it has an extraordinary juridical nature due to a convention signed by the Italian State and the Municipal Administration of Florence.
The thirty rooms of the Gallery have recently been reorganized, according to chronological criteria, Down a period going from Neoclassicism (the age of Peter Leopold) to the 1920′ s. The rooms on the second floor have been restored, but the decoration, upholstering, and furniture of the Lorraine period have been maintained.
The itinerary begins with both Neoclassic works like the “Oath of the Saxons to Napoleon” by Pietro Benvenuti and romantic jobs like the grandiose “Entry of Charles VIII” by Giuseppe Bezzuoli or “The two Foscari” by Francesco Hayez.
There is a section that comprises essential works by Giovanni Fattori, like the “Rotonda Palmieri,” the “Battle of Magenta,” the “Staffato,” and a rich series of landscapes and scenes of life in the Maremma – the “Market in Maremma,” the “Ox cart,” the “Salto Delle Pecore.” Many of the works of these artists displayed in the Gallery belong to the collection of Diego Martelli, a critic and friend of the Macchiaioli who left their paintings to the museum at the end of the last century.
There are also many paintings by Silvestro Lega and Telemaco Signorini with views and interior scenes, while Giovanni Boldini is represented with a series of rapid and elegant portraits. The sculptures of this section include the works by Adriano Cecioni, who lucidly translated and experimented with the tonal ideas prevalent to whom the touch was so important.
In addition to the collections mentioned above belonging to the early and late 19th century, the Museum also displays a lavish array of 19th-century works that will be arranged in the so-called “Mezzanine Degli Occhi” (Mezzanine of the Eyes, the “eyes” being windows in the shape of a circle.
16. Horne Museum
The English collector Herbert P. Horne (1864–1916), who donated his lifetime’s worth of collections to the Italian State and the palace where he had assembled them, is the inspiration behind the Horne Museum. This structure was once owned by the Alberti family and later by the Corsi family, who gave it its current appearance at the end of the 15th century. Simone del Pollaiolo, also known as “Il Cronaca,” is likely responsible for the elegant exterior design and the balanced internal courtyard.
The current design reflects the owner’s preferences (Horne was a man of letters, an architect, and a valuable critic). Horne relocated to Florence at the end of the 19th century to study the Italian Renaissance. He developed a keen interest in the artwork, furnishings, and decorative and practical household items that belonged to the typical Florentine home he wished to recreate for himself. The result is a vast and opulent collection organized to preserve a private home’s personality through furniture and household items.
The exquisite household items, such as original silver and ivory cutlery, needles, mirror holders, leather boxes, and firedogs, are particularly fascinating.
Even the collection of paintings is intriguing because it includes many Florentine and Sienese paintings from the 14th century and other pieces created by 14th- and 15th-century artists. The design clearly reflects the owner’s sensibility and taste, who was an avid student of Botticelli. The painting by Giotto depicting “St. Stephen” is the most priceless item.
Among the sculptures are pieces by Desiderio da Settignano, Giambologna, and Bernini’s “Angels in Glory.”
Fine examples of Italian ceramics from the 14th to the 17th centuries, made in the factories of Orvieto, Cafaggiolo, and Urbino, can be found in most furniture pieces.
17. Casa Buonarroti
The Casa Buonarroti offers one of the most distinctive visitor experiences among Florence’s museums. It is both a museum and a monument, a location of remembrance and celebration of Michelangelo’s genius and, at the same time, a lavish baroque display and exhibition of the rich art collections of the family.
The Madonna of the Stairs, an intense witness to his passionate study of Donatello, and the Battle of the Centaurs, an eloquent testimony of unquenchable love for classical art, are the two famous reliefs in marble that are masterpieces created by the young Michelangelo.
The link between Michelangelo’s works and the worldly affairs of the Buonarroti family is not any less significant for those who walk through the grand doors of the seventeenth-century palace in Florence’s Via Ghibellina 70.
A place where they preserved a priceless cultural heritage (including significant archives and a library) and unique collections of art, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and archaeological objects that are now on display on the two floors of the museum; they spared no expense in enlarging and decorating their home.
18. Hospital of Innocents
The Hospital of Innocents, also known as the Ospedale Degli Innocenti, is more than just a significant piece of architecture. It has continuously provided care for infants and young children for over five centuries. The “Innocenti” represents the evolving humanistic views of Florence during the early Renaissance, starting with its sponsorship and continuing through its services and architecture.
The Gallery is located in one of Florence’s most renowned and significant architectural complexes from the early 15th century. Filippo Brunelleschi was designed and constructed under the direction and funding of the WooI Guild. Brunelleschi deliberately balanced the refectory, cloisters, dormitories, infirmary, nurses’ rooms, and porticoes to produce a beautiful and functional hospital design.
Later, they were expanded and frescoed, which served as a record of the institution’s ongoing activities and the Medici family’s favors.
Both the former children’s dayroom above the main portico and the loggia above the cloister has been set aside for the Gallery. It consists of excellent works that only make up a small portion of the extensive collections amassed over the years by the Hospital through donations, bequests, loans, or pieces that the organization itself commissioned.
The collection still holds outstanding panel paintings, detached frescoes, furniture pieces, decorations, and several priceless illuminated manuscripts from the 14th and 15th centuries that are regarded as some of the finest preserved in Florence, even though the collection’s most significant works (by Della Robbia, Beato Angelico, Vasari, and Giambologna) were dispersed in the 19th century.
The Adoration of the Magi by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449–1494), created for the Hospital church, is one of the best paintings. The painting depicts some historical figures (merchants of the Guild of Silk and their servants) involved with the life of the Hospital and praising the Child in a stunning palette of colors.
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